Afternoon Roundup: Today's Top Stories


At The Motley Fool, we know our readers like to be informed. We have scouted out today's most relevant news items and brought them to you all in one page. We hope you find this midday edition informative and useful.

Google stocks up on patents
(NAS: GOOG) announced that it had purchased around 1,000 patents from IBM (NYS: IBM) in hopes of protecting itself from lawsuits. After being outbid by Apple (NAS: AAPL) and Microsoft (NAS: MSFT) for Nortel Network patents earlier this month, Google believed it was important to acquire patents related to its business.

The company has faced various patent lawsuits, especially concerning its Android platform. Google general counsel Kent Walker has argued that patent-infringement lawsuits are stifling innovation, and simply represent a business strategy designed to hurt competition. The patents Google purchased from IBM run the gamut from chips to search engines.

Some close to the matter say that Google, with its $40 billion in cash, has been in talks to acquire InterDigital, a company that owns thousands of patents, but produces no products. Read more atThe Wall Street Journal.

Moody's puts Spain under the microscope
With rumblings that Spain may be at risk of catching the debt bug, Moody's decided to put the nation's long-term debt under review for a downgrade. The agency could lower the grade to Aa2, which would still leave Spanish bonds a healthy investment. After the announcement, the Euro and Spanish bond prices fell.

Spain's main problem is high financing costs, which push companies to transfer up to 10% interest rates to their borrowers. Banco Santander (NYS: STD) , the country's biggest bank, renews around 120 billion euro in financing per year. Moody's also put the bank under review for a downgrade of its own. Read more atThe New York TimesandThe Source.

Merck to cut as many as 13,000 jobs
The second largest drugmaker in the U.S., Merck (NYS: MRK) , announced plans to eliminate as many as 13,000 jobs by 2015. That represents 14% of the company's 91,000-person work force.

The cuts are part of a restructuring plan that will save as much as $4.6 billion a year. It also includes expansion in emerging markets and spending on research, mainly because Merck will lose patent exclusivity on its asthma drug Singulair next year.

The cuts will come from non-revenue-generating positions and the closing of animal-health plants Merck deems unnecessary. The company already cut 11,500 jobs last year. Read more atBloomberg.

French Banks get hit by Greek default
After passing a rescue plan for Greek debt, French banks are tallying up the losses they'll have to take. Banks and insurers could lose around $4.23 billion in the second quarter. BNP Paribas, which doesn't have a Greek subsidiary, holds more Greek debt than any other bank. Expertsexpect the bank will show a negative impact when it announces its results next week.

Credit Agricole and Societe General, France's other largest banks, are expected to suffer as well. Moody's has put all three banks under watch. Read more atThe Wall Street Journal.

BSkyB to pay up to investors
The British broadcaster will pay investors $1.6 billion after many of them endured losses in a failed deal with News Corp (NAS: NWSA) . The company will return 750 million pounds to investors with a share buyback and a 20% boost to the final dividend.

The company also agreed to keep James Murdoch as its chairman, despite criticism and political pressure. BSkyB reported better-than-expected earnings, but analysts are concerned that the lack of addition of new customers could be a sign of weakness in the business. Read more atReuters.

So there you have it -- the top financial stories for this afternoon. Check throughout the day for commentary on these and other stories. Also, follow us on Twitter, on Facebook, or through our email digests.

At the time thisarticle was published Michelle Zayedowns no shares of any companies mentioned in the story.The Motley Fool owns shares of Microsoft, Apple, Google, and International Business Machines.Motley Fool newsletter serviceshave recommended buying shares of Apple, Microsoft, and Google; creating a bull call spread position in Apple; and creating a covered collar position in Microsoft. Try any of our Foolish newsletter servicesfree for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe thatconsidering a diverse range of insightsmakes us better investors. The Motley Fool has adisclosure policy.

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